Indigenous Top Ten

October 19, 2016

Canada must build structured K-12 Indigenous education systems, says ministry note

A persistent federal funding gap and lack of structures and resources for Indigenous education means that many Indigenous students are at a significant disadvantage compared to their non-Indigenous peers, reports CBC. A “secret” briefing note prepared for Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett reportedly says that band-operated schools are failing students because “many communities lack the educational systems and structures required to close the educational outcome gap.” The briefing goes on to note that most band-operated schools do not have proper curriculum development, teacher training, testing and quality assurance, or the support structures available to non-Indigenous schools such as a school board, elected trustees, or an education ministry. Cindy Blackstock explains that the gap in Indigenous student achievement has negative impacts on students’ wellbeing that can last long after finishing their K-12 education. “These kids know that other kids are succeeding. The children internalise it as their own failure. 'I'm not smart enough. I'm not good enough. It's our community, we're losers’,” says Blackstock. CBC | CBC (2) | CBC (3)

VIU’s “Reconciliation Road” event series looks to engage, challenge Canadians on reconciliation

Vancouver Island University has announced the commencement of Reconciliation Road, a series of events and activities designed to support reconciliation between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples while also highlighting its challenges. “We face a great challenge as a nation; one that requires real courage and leadership from every Indigenous person and every Canadian,” says Douglas White, Director of VIU’s Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation. “We must, all of us together, change, grow, and bring into being a new version of our country that is built upon respect, recognition, justice and altruism.” The event series began with the launch of the Witness Blanket art installation at VIU and will continue into 2017. There are currently more than 20 events planned for the series, a full list of which is available on the Reconciliation Road website. VIU (Release) | Reconciliation Road

“We before me”: Algonquin to open Indigenous entrepreneurship centre

Algonquin College has officially begun a $44.9M building and renovation project that will include the creation of what is reportedly the first Indigenous entrepreneurship centre in the Ontario college system. Housed within the Algonquin College Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Centre, the Institute for Indigenous Entrepreneurship will look to attract students from Indigenous communities in Eastern Ontario, Cree communities in Quebec, and Ottawa’s 3,000-plus urban Inuit population. Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives Ron McLester tells the Ottawa Citizen that a major component of the new centre will be to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into the teaching of entrepreneurship. “We don’t want to teach Aboriginal students to do work in a non-Aboriginal way. In the traditional model, it’s ‘we before me,’” he says. “We hope to get to the point where Indigenous entrepreneurship is not just with the students, but the community.” Ottawa Citizen | Algonquin

Lutselk’e high school students petition to study outside community, Aurora adult learning program postponed

High school students in Lutselk’e, Northwest Territories are petitioning the territorial government to send them outside the community in order to finish their studies due to “dysfunctional” school renovations. Both high school and elementary students in Lutselk’e have been evacuated from their school since September due to mould, and have since been housed in a number of different buildings across the community. Florence Catholique, former principal of Lutsel K'e Dene School, expressed her understanding of challenges faced by high school students, but also noted the potential downsides to relocation, including concerns about the influence of drugs in larger communities and the loss of positive role models in Lutselk’e. One of the centres providing additional space for students is Aurora College’s Community Learning Centre for high school student education, which has postponed its adult literacy program in order to accommodate the students. “We are beginning to investigate other programs that might not require formal classrooms space,” explained Aurora President Jane Arychuk, who noted that the college is looking for other ways to provide its adult education programming. CBC (Youth Education) | CBC (Adult Education)

uManitoba incorporates Indigenous design, planning into 30-year campus plan

The University of Manitoba has released a set of Indigenous design and planning principles alongside its master plan to provide a 30-year framework for the school’s Fort Garry campus. The plan and principles were reportedly developed over a two-year period that included stakeholder consultation with the help of an Indigenous Advisory Committee and the University’s Indigenous Advisory Circle. “The [principles] themselves are pretty exciting in terms of doing something new and unprecedented,” said Planner Jonathon Hildebrand, noting that the plans focus on making the university campus “a space where Indigenous cultures are rolled into the experience of the campus and how people experience and view the campus.” Metro

Federal education framework still a tool of forced assimilation, says Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug leader

Canada is intentionally underfunding First Nations schools as part of its historical attempt to force the assimilation of First Nations youth, according to the director of education in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug. Located 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, the community reportedly receives $13K per student per year from the federal government, compared to a French Catholic school in Thunder Bay that receives $27K, although both are required to deliver the same provincial curriculum. “I don't think this is an accident. I think it's planned that way,” said the community’s director of education Bill Sainnawap. “I used to call it a failure system, a built in failure system.” CBC reports that the limited funds require students from the community to leave if they wish to pursue high school beyond Grade 10, a fact that residential school survivor Bill Morris believes is intended to eventually push the community off of its land. “That's the way the government works. They try to get rid of us,” said Morris. “Even my kids now—they want to get rid of us, in a way. It's land. It has to do with land and jurisdiction.” CBC

Opaskweyak Cree Nation, Dechinta find success with land-based education

Students at Oscar Lathlin Collegiate on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and the Dechinta Center for Research and Learning are hunting, fishing, and trapping for academic credit. Students of Oscar Lathlin Collegiate learn to live off the land by taking a trapping education course in Grade 11 and a forest ecology program in Grade 12, with both programs incorporating Cree culture and language with contributions from community members and elders. The school also requires that all students complete one Cree-language course to graduate. “It gives the kids a sense of connection,” said land-based education teacher Randy Koshel. “They're getting a chance to see what outdoor living is and the cultural and spiritual values that are shared, especially when elders come in and talk about it.” Based in the Northwest Territories, Dechinta offers postsecondary-level courses with topics ranging from Indigenous medicine to natural resources management. In its seven years of operation, the school has seen all of its 340-plus students complete their programs. CBC | University Affairs

FNUniv relocates Saskatoon operations onto SIIT campus

First Nations University of Canada has officially moved all of its Saskatoon operations into the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies’ facilities. FNUniv has reportedly rented classroom space from SIIT for the past two years, but the new move will see the remainder of the school’s personnel relocated into SIIT’s space for the 2016-2017 term. “I am pleased to welcome First Nations University of Canada to SIIT’s main campus,” said SIIT President Riel Bellegarde. “We believe the relationship between us [is]  one of importance that will work to strengthen the learning experience of all students.” The move will also include the relocation of FNUniv’s student success services, which consist of access to Elder’s services, writing support, and comfort food events such as soup and bannock lunches. NationTalk (SIIT)

Dal permanently raises Mi’kmaq flag

“We recognize that Dalhousie is located on traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq people,” said Dalhousie University President Richard Florizone to mark the permanent raising of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council Flag on Dal’s Studley and Sexton campuses this month. The flag installations mark one of several initiatives underway at Dal, which include the addition of the Aboriginal Student Advisor position, the newly launched Aboriginal Student Centre, the Indigenous Studies Minor, and the Elders-in-Residence program. Mi’kmaq Grand Keptin Antle (Andrew) Denny said, “It is important as we move forward through our shared history that we are able to look at each other, talk to each other, laugh with each other.” Chronicle Herald | Dal

UCN hiring Aboriginal Curriculum Specialist to strengthen ties with Aboriginal community

University College of the North has announced that it will be hiring an Aboriginal Curriculum Specialist as part of its strategy to be connected to northern and Aboriginal peoples. Linda Melnick, dean of the department of research and innovation, explained that the “Aboriginal curriculum specialist will assist faculty members in integrating Aboriginal worldviews and northern perspectives in their courses, and help with including Aboriginal methods in teaching, plus support faculty in including Aboriginal content in technologically-mediated courses.” UCN President Konrad Jonassan pointed to UCN’s mandatory courses that introduce students to Aboriginal culture and histories, adding that “in the past, Canada’s education system has discounted the contribution of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and UCN is contributing to the reversal of that trend.” Winnipeg Free Press | UCN